Written by: Chad Jefferis | Grain Marketing Advisor | 0429 811 244
It has now been 10 years since Bunge began its journey in Western Australia. Primarily, it has provided another option for grain producers to store and market their grain in a competitive and saturated WA marketplace. Having a multinational company like Bunge in the landscape brings over 200 years of international trade and experience and with this brings plenty of different trade partnerships to the table.
The importance of market diversification cannot be underestimated as WA growers’ production gets higher and the trade landscape gets more competitive.
Bunge started off with building a Delivered End User (DEU) storage port in Bunbury which could be directly loaded onto export vessels. This provided growers with an end user advantage to deliver at no cost with the option of back loading fertiliser and lime at competitive rates. Regions west of the Albany Highway which were traditionally graziers now have a decent option to deliver and market their grain where CBH sites are limited and often out of the way.
To compliment this port two strategic upcountry sites were built at Kukerin and Arthur River which can be fed into the Bunge port by road transport. These are an example of how grain bunkers can be built and while not to the same standard of CBH provide an adequate and viable storage option.
The fact that growers can store grain on farm and deliver and market all year round is a strong point of difference and one that WA growers are embracing, with close to 400 different farming entities using their facilities. The catchment area for grain deliveries is expanding with growers as far wide as Quairading, Bruce Rock, Hyden, Lake King and Jerramungup utilising Bunge at certain times.
There has been teething problems along the way but the improvement in delivery times and windows is there to see and being new to the WA market growers are really embracing the concept. Bunge have tried to keep it simple in delivery standards and segregations and this has been a good point of difference. While delivery time could be quicker this has improved.
This enables growers the flexibility of delivering 7 days per week on longer operating hours which gives them the opportunity to keep headers going, hence getting their valuable crop harvested in a timely manner. The fact Bunge provides flexibility to delivery standards and specifications makes delivering there a safe and reliable option.
Bunge have taken a lot of pressure off CBH operations to get the two record crops out of the state. However, it could be said that they are competing for the same road transport, which Bunge have done very well since its inception. Bunge have also been competitive buyers in the CBH system and have shipped grain from all major Ports.
Internal systems could do with some improvements. While the Portal is adequate it can be slow and frustrating which is not helpful during a busy harvest. Having a consult page would make harvest admin and tonnage transparency easier for everyone. This could equate to more tonnage. When looking to utilise Bunge’s storage facilities one of the negatives is limited competition for grain markets. Unlike warehoused CBH grain, which has multiple buyers on any given day creating competition. Bunge is the sole buyer and exporter at this stage which is a risk. If grain is forward sold prior to delivery, then this risk is eliminated. Pooling options do not exist at this stage.
Looking forward Bunge’s role will be to consolidate and improve on what it has now. They have at least created a blueprint for future grain storage and marketing ventures across WA.